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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE CITY OF RUINS AND ROSES, c. 1930

Happy Face: 1911

Happy Face: 1911

August 1911. New Bedford, Massachusetts. "A group of workers in the Butler Mills. Kate McCormick, 10 Cleveland Street, the smallest girl in the picture, apparently 13 years old. The happy faces appear only when the photo is being taken." Photo and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

 

Oh the disappointment

The nigh-palpable disappointment in Mr. Hines' commentary nearly oozes off the screen. Underprivileged kids, working, should be solid gold. And then they go and SMILE! AAAAUGH! Rotten kids.

Step Kids

They certainly don't look like forced smiles. I love the demeanor of the girl in the middle with her hands on her hips.

Let me go find a tissue...

Dave, are you just trying to make us depressed with all these pictures of dirty, underprivileged, underage workers and children? Because it's working.

[Dirty? Depressing? I don't see that here. - Dave]

What's really going on here?

According to Hine, they only smile for the birdie, I think he was wrong. These kids smiled because they thought it was fun to have their picture taken. This doesn't diminish the fact that at 13 years their school career was over and that they would work hard the rest of their lives. However we are a nation of optimists. Facing these young people was a World War in which some these boys would surely serve and a depression, that would affect everyone followed by another World War. Yet, we survived, as the strongest, most prosperous and just country ever.

 
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